Half US Troops Say
They Won't Re-Enlist


WASHINGTON (SAPA-AP) -- A survey of American troops in Iraq by the military newspaper Stars And Stripes has found that nearly three-quarters of those questioned said unit morale was low or average, and that nearly half did not plan to re-enlist.
The survey, published in the Wednesday edition of the paper, is part of a seven-part series on troop morale and re-enlistment problems in Iraq.
The Stars And Stripes is Pentagon-funded newspaper published by civilians - often former military officers - with some military personnel also working on staff.
Among the findings:
About 34 percent of those surveyed said morale was low or very low, 27 percent said it was high or very high, and the rest said it was average. Morale levels however varied considerably - reservists ranked morale as lowest, while Air Force and Marine units largely considered their morale high.
Many Reserve and National Guard respondents said they often felt like second-class soldiers who received lesser quality equipment, support and treatment than their full-time comrades.
Air Force bases and food services were markedly better than those for army units, and army soldiers who saw those sites said the division undercut morale and teamwork.
Nearly half of those surveyed said they do not plan to re-enlist. Military leaders told the paper that enlistment rates historically drop after conflicts, and overall military re-enlistment appears fine, according to the Pentagon.
More than one-third said that their mission was "not clearly" or "not at all" defined. Reservists had the most complaints in this category, the newspaper found, while Air Force and Marine respondents had the least complaints.
When asked how worthwhile the invasion of Iraq was for the United States, 67 percent agreed that it was "worthwhile," while 31 percent said it was of little or no value.
The survey was based on a standard list of 17 questions the newspaper presented to 1 935 US soldiers in Iraq over a three-week period in August. Reporters visited 50 US military camps in northern, central and southern Iraq, interviewing soldiers and collecting survey answers.
"The results can't be projected onto the entire military population in Iraq, but the returns were impressive," according to the newspaper.
The Stars And Stripes began as a military newspaper during the American Civil War in the early 1860s. It was published again in World War I, and has been published continuousy since 1942. - Sapa-AFP




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